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Archive for May, 2013

Free Book Friday!

Friday, May 31st, 2013






Today’s Free Book is:

The Prophet (Graveyard Queen, Bk 3) by Amanda Stevens





My name is Amelia Gray. — I am the Graveyard Queen, a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. My father passed down four rules to keep me safe and I’ve broken every last one. A door has opened and evil wants me back. — In order to protect myself, I’ve vowed to return to those rules. But the ghost of a murdered cop needs my help to find his killer. The clues lead me to the dark side of Charleston — where witchcraft, root doctors and black magic still flourish — and back to John Devlin, a haunted police detective I should only love from afar.

Now I’m faced with a terrible choice: follow the rules or follow my heart.

ISBN 9780778313397, Mass Market Paperback



We will choose 2 winners at random from comments we receive here on the Blog from PBS members.

You have until Sunday, June 2, 2013 at 12 noon EDT, to leave a comment.

Good Luck to everyone!




Note: All the books given away on Free Book Friday are available in the PBS Market. We have thousands of new and new overstock titles available right now, with more added hourly. Some of the prices are amazing – and you can use a PBS credit to make the deal even better!

Remember, every new book purchase supports the club and helps keep membership free!





Literature Review – The Secret Keeper

Thursday, May 30th, 2013


The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton


Review by Brenna B. (demiducky25)



I came across this book in an interesting way.  My mom wanted to read this book and was having trouble acquiring it through her local library, so I offered to request the book and have it sent to my library.  By the time I picked it up from my library and saw her again to give her the book, she had already gotten it herself and couldn’t stop talking about it.  Rather than return this book unread, I decided I should give it a shot since the description looked interesting, and boy am I glad I did!

The Secret Keeper follows Laurel’s quest learn about her dying mother Dorothy’s life.  Specifically, Laurel wants to know about a crime she witnessed Dorothy commit back in the 1960s when Laurel was sixteen years old.  The only other witness was Laurel’s toddler brother, Gerry.  Laurel moved away from home, pushed this event into the far corners of her mind, and became a world-renowned actress.  Fifty years later, one of Laurel’s sister’s finds a photograph of her mother and another woman and an inscription in a book from World War II that no one understands.   This sends Laurel on a journey to learn about her mother, the book, and the other woman in the picture in hopes of making sense of the crime she witnessed so many years earlier.  Laurel’s research opens the door to events that happened in Dorothy’s childhood all the way through World War II and beyond and what she discovers about her mother makes her question if her own happy childhood was a lie.

I really can’t describe this book without given away its secrets, so I’m sorry if the description above is a bit clunky.  Kate Morton does a fantastic job of weaving together so many seemingly unconnected threads.  Each word was chosen carefully and nothing is said that doesn’t play a role in unraveling the mystery later.  There are a lot of time-jumps in this book: one chapter takes place in modern day, then the next in the 1960s, then the next in modern day, then another in World War II and the perspective shifts between characters as well.  I didn’t find this a problem since Morton clearly lets you know at the start of each chapter where in time you are, but I know some people aren’t fans of this type of story-telling so I figured I should mention it.  I thought that the constant shifting added to the story since you wanted to keep reading to find out what happened.  I had a hard time putting this book down, and was disappointed when it was over (not because of the ending because the ending was amazing but because it was done- I enjoyed the ride so much I didn’t want it to end)!  If you want a book with twists and turns, one that will keep you guessing until the very end, then this is a book for you.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.  It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a while, and as soon as I’m done writing this review I plan to start reading Morton’s earlier book The Forgotten Garden, which my mom thought was an even better book than The Secret Keeper.  Since I think so highly of this book, I can’t wait to see what I’m in for with The Forgotten Garden.




My rating- 5 out of 5 stars








Historical Fiction Review – A Trail of Blood

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

The ruins of Croyland aka Crowland Abbey


A Trail of Blood by Jeremy Potter

Review by Jerelyn H. (I-F-Letty)


Mr. Potter was the Chairman for the Richard III Society from 1971 until 1989, so you have a well, (if slightly biased) researched story with a decidedly Richardian slant.  I tend to stay away from Princes in the Tower stories, I am usually left a bit cold by either a heavy handed. “Big bad Richard” or the equally obnoxious who done it, with the usual suspects.  But refreshingly this is told with a distance of a generation between events and the time period our protagonists live in.

The dissolution of the monasteries has begun, the smaller religious houses having already been sacrificed in hopes that the larger more powerful abbeys and monasteries will be left in peace.  The great fenland Abbey of Croyland aka Crowland is the setting.  A young monk is asked to investigate the possibility that Richard Duke of York could be alive, and if he is, could he be persuaded to come back to challenge Henry VIII.  To save the religious houses which face extinction, to take his rightful place as king, and to be the savior of the true faith in England.

I have to say I loved this story, loved it!  It was, as I said before, it is not your run of the mill lost princes story.  It deals with the changing face of England. After all, the War of the Roses is within living memory, and by the time Richard III was killed at Bosworth I don’t believe many people care who ruled as long as the hostilities ended. So the reign of Henry VII was one of relative peace and rebuilding.  No matter what your view point of Henry VII, he was the one left standing and had the pedigree to rule.   The church was so corrupt that anyone who had the wit to see knew that. It was also the largest land owner in the country and had wealth just waiting to be pillaged. Henry VIII with Thomas Cromwell’s help did just that.

But the real story is Thomas’ journey reexamining the time after Richard III’s death and those pretenders that came forward to challenge Henry VII’s reign from Perkin Warbeck and Lambert Simnel.  The main question becomes, if Richard Duke of York had survived why had he not come forward?  And, could they stop the dissolution of the monasteries or was it too late?  If this is a time period which interests you I think that you will like the tale Mr. Potter spins, whether you are Lancastrian or Richardian it gives food for thought.

4 stars.

Non-Fiction Review – Cat Daddy

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life Love and Coming Clean

by Jackson Galaxy


Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)


I am a cat guardian for my kitty kid Tootie.  She’s a 13-year old tortoiseshell longhair who is a bundle of kitty love (and fur) and she makes me smile. Born with only one severely damaged eye, she is essentially blind but she has managed to adjust to her limitations and thrive.  I recently started watching Animal Planet’s ‘My Cat from Hell’ with cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy. I thought watching the show could teach me more about cats in general. While watching I’m thinking, ‘Thank God I got so lucky with my kitties’ because I’ve never experienced the extreme situations featured on the show.

Through the show I have learned a lot about cat language and started to better understand some of Tootie’s behaviors and how she communicates.  Like why she likes to pee and poop in the yard just beyond our back door, why she loves to carry around her favorite fishing pole toy and what she is saying when she ‘talks’ to us.  I’ll say this: the stuff Jackson says really makes sense.  I love his approach to living with animals.  When I found out he had an autobiography, I knew I had to read it.

It is a fair assessment, I think, to say Jackson’s life has been quite the roller coaster ride of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.  His life was chaotic and he was constantly searching for a place to fit.  He takes the reader on his journey, starting at a shelter where he, sadly, had to euthanize animals to his business today as a cat behaviorist.  Throughout his story he provides tips on how to be a better cat guardian and information on various topics like overcrowded shelters, spaying and neutering, feral populations, cat nutrition and the negative effects of declawing.

I think any dedicated cat guardian could gain insight from this book.  The guardians who want to have a deeper bond with their cats and want to learn more about their behaviors can find something to use here. I’ve been a cat guardian for 14 years and I have learned some tricks along the way (like how to better travel with cats) but reading Jackson’s book gave me better understanding into why these tricks work and ways to improve my methods.

On a deeper level, I was incredibly moved by Jackson’s telling of his final good-bye to Benny, the incorrigible cat from the title of the book. I had tears pouring down my face because I experienced some of the same emotions when I had to say good-bye to Sunny, my grey and white shorthair and first kitty kid.  And I know it’s ok that sometimes I still get doubled over by the pain and grief of his passing.  I’ll have a regular day and then I’ll see Sunny’s picture and a wave of sadness just overtakes me.  Being emotionally invested is just one aspect of being a cat guardian.  We want to be the best we can be for these animals and are willing to do what it takes to be the ones to save them because, on another level, these animals save us right back.  Our cats have the ability to make a bad day better, give us love and acceptance when we aren’t feeling it from the humans in our lives and melt our hearts with a contented purr.

Thank you, Jackson Galaxy, for imparting some wisdom on how to speak and understand the cat language and how to love our cats in the ways they can understand.




Memorial Day 2013

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Missing Dixie

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

by Lois N. (Booklover57)

Dixie, New Year’s Eve 1970



Way back in 2006, a request was made to me for a James Patterson book.  It was from Dixie in Texas.  About a week later, I made a request for a book from Dixie….and so our friendship began.

We started corresponding, first on the PBS site and then via personal emails.  We quickly became fast friends.  Our friendship continued over the years but the distance between our homes, me in NY and Dixie in Texas, made it difficult for us to communicate other than an occasional phone call.

Dixie’s 79th birthday, with her daughter Sandie


Our friendship grew as we each shared our lives. We shared our children’s trials and tribulations, sicknesses and marriages and even some sad occasions.


Dixie’s beloved dog Missy

More than most, we talked about our beloved pets.

The years went on and we continued our friendship, until we realized we’d both be in Las Vegas at the same time.  Once we discovered that, there was no question that we’d find a way to meet in person. That meeting took place just last week on May 9th, 2013.  We met at the Texas Station hotel and had a wonderful lunch together.  I got to meet Dixie’s two daughters and she was able to meet my 3 friends (who she already knew through my emails).  It was a great afternoon and something we’d looked forward to for many, many years.


As happy as this story is…there is a very sad note to it.  I returned from Las Vegas on Sunday and on Monday morning found an email from Dixie’s daughter…shockingly, Dixie had passed away on May 12th, Mother’s Day.

This was a blow to me as I had just had the pleasure of meeting her and now she’s gone.

I will miss her everyday as there was not a day that we did not communicate.

This is the a photo of Dixie and I at our lunch last week (she’s on the left and that’s me on the right).

Thank you PBS for giving me the opportunity to make a wonderful friend!









Note from the PaperBackSwap Team: Dixie D. (Dip) first joined PaperBackSwap on 2/20/2006. In a bit over 6 years, she mailed over 900 books! Dixie, we miss you too!





Mystery Monday – Green for Danger

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Green for Danger by Christianna Brand


Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)


Christianna Brand presses a lot of buttons. The setting of this 1944 mystery is an English military hospital, so right away we gulp at the prospect of murder in the OR. We feel the stress of wartime with the characters frazzled with work and quietly miserable about deprivations of decent food and heat. As if medical murder and home front fatigue were not enough, we have the Blitz: sirens screaming, Nazi bombers droning and roaring overhead, crammed shelters, bombs falling and wreaking havoc on lives and property. This novel is worth reading for the immediate atmosphere alone.

But it’s also a refined puzzle of a whodunit. A mail carrier dies on the operating table. The death is ruled an accident but the head nurse, in a drunken unguarded tirade, claims that it was murder and that she has hidden the evidence. She is found stabbed to death. Suspects can be narrowed down to six, three doctors and three nursing staff. Romantic feelings and the accompanying jealousy are a little tedious at the beginning but they turn out to be crucial to the unfolding of story.

Inspective Cockrill, who will call to mind Fat Andy Dalziel in Reginald Hill’s novels, gets on the case only to find that he knows but can’t prove whodunit. How to force a confession? By putting them all under extreme pressure. The half-dozen suspects are all unique personalities. Brand makes us see that the flawed characters like and respect each other enough to tolerate faults – and that makes the reveal all the more painful for them and the reader.

And it’s also well-written. Brand describes people and places vividly. The characterization and dialogue are convincing as are the solution and motivation. The action scenes are exciting. It’s understandable that a film version was made in 1946, starring Alastair Sim as Cockrill and Trevor Howard. Directed by Sidney Gilliat, it is regarded by mystery fans and film historians as one of the greatest screen treatments of a whodunnit.

“You have to reach for the greatest of the Great Names (Agatha Christie, John Dickson Carr, Ellery Queen) to find Christianna Brand’s rivals in the subtleties of the trade” said Anthony Boucher, a well-regarded critic for the New York Times.